So in my last blog post I used the 200 words to moan about all the symptoms of Perimenopause and briefly talked about some of the nutritional and holistic things that I was trying in desperation to get my sleep back. This had been going on for at least two years and I have spent a small fortune on products that offered such promise but seemed to not work for me. I was exhausted and convinced that I was going mad when I finally reached out to a private doctor, mainly in the name of research for this blog post. I had an hour with a doctor that specialises in menopause, that works privately and in NHS Menopause clinics (few and far between, things need to be pretty bad to get a referral from your GP - but they do exist!).
I plonked myself down in her comfy chair (very nearly fell asleep) and told her about my lack of sleep, my anxiety and my added anxiety that I was going mad. I was mixing up my words, my friends and children had started to call me out on it. She listened patiently to my whinges and then reassured me that those were the top three reasons for women coming to see her. It was normal. It was hormonal. That meant that millions of other women were going through the same stuff - how bonkers/depressed do we have to get before we seek professional help? Then I got angry, the reason was that I didn’t do anything, was because we don’t talk about it, because there is shame to aging and the menopause (and possibly in not being a ‘coper’).
The doctor explained that the lack of sleep was due to reduced oestrogen, it means you wake up between sleep cycles and for those of us worriers, then you are in a cycle of doom, as you start worrying not being asleep and then the alarm goes off and you’re up for another day.
The anxiety, the brain fog along with a catalogue of other symptoms including increased UTI’s, headaches...The list goes on, are all related to having lower levels of estrogen. (there are other symptoms related to the other hormones but this is just my experience).
Now with that all established, the question was what did I want to do about it. There seemed to be three clear choices:
- Do nothing and ride it out (I was too tired for this option)
- Continue with my snake oils route supplemented with a huge amount of phyto-oestrogens (these mimic the role of oestrogen in your body and by consuming lots you can top up levels, foods such a soya, flax seeds, peaches and berries (possible)
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Again, in the name of research (and my sanity) I opted for route 3 with a programme of bio identical hormones derived from yams. This takes the form of a spray that I spray on my arm once a day. I swear, I have slept every night through since I started my oestrogen spitzing.
I’m not dreading the birds starting their 4am morning chorus this summer as I don’t hear it. I’m fast asleep.
I’m bouncing off the walls a month on, going to the gym nearly everyday.. I’m still eating a lot of chocolate as I’m addicted not because I'm knackered and needing the sugar rush to keep me awake for the school run at 4pm. I also feel much happier in the knowledge that my brain is getting what it needs to keep functioning and my bones are retaining some density - hopefully it will help me live well into old age.
I’m lucky that I was able to see this doctor, I wanted to share my story as it is real, very real and there's not enough conversation around it. I’m also lucky as with no family history of breast cancer there was very little if any risk, if anything it is a positive benefit. The choice is entirely yours.. You just need to know that there are choices!